I now have 3 extra letters after my name!

22 10 2014

Since June 2014, I can officially sign as: Sarah Topps, MPH

This has been a strange year for me, with a lot of ups and downs. There have been a number of major life changes which have somewhat interrupted the frequency of my online writing. I hope to change this in the coming months, despite still being busy! I have been really fortunate to be working on a number of interesting projects and teams, so let me give you the latest for each one.

1) Working at the University of Calgary on a project called Healthy Child Uganda.

Excitingly, our new website just went up! HCU is an amazing team, and I love my work with them. Check it out here: http://www.healthychilduganda.org/ 

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2) Surprise work trips to South America!

In September, I was also honoured to be offered the opportunity to travel with Dr. Marc Poulin (University of Calgary) to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) for their Safety Week Conference, focusing on the health impacts of working at high altitude. I would like to share the Impact Report that I wrote for the visit with you – particularly since this one has attracted quite a few compliments from my superiors, and as a Global Health alumnus, I found it so challenging to find good examples of this kind of documentation that we need to learn when I was a student. I hope it helps someone learn:
Impact Report – ALMA Safety Week Conference Sept 23 – 25 – FINAL © Sarah Topps 2014

chile sunset Sept 2014

Having dinner with world-class physicists every night is pretty cool. The sunsets were pretty spectacular too…This was taken literally from outside of my hotel room at ALMA. – Sarah Topps 2014

3) Speaking at Global Health Conferences and Events

We have also been making good progress with the new Student Executive arm of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research. I am excited to announce that I will be speaking about Mentorship at the 21st Canadian Conference on Global Health, along with several of my esteemed colleagues from the CCGHR, the CCGHR Student Executive and the CSIH Mentornet program.

You can view the program here:
http://www.ccgh-csih.ca/assets/Programclean_oct10.pdf

CCGH 2014 Partnerships for GH


Workshop #1 – Governor General 1 (< this is where to go if you are hoping to join us!)
Building a toolkit for success in global health: The many faces of mentorship
Sarah Topps, MPH (Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research)
At the end of the session, participants will:

  • Develop a 5-year roadmap for the next steps to take in their careers.
  • Identify pathways to finding a mentor and why this is important.
  • Strengthen their peer networks by connecting with others in global health.

I will also be co-presenting with those teams on the same topic at the now sold out Students and Young Professionals Global Health Summit on November 1st in Ottawa. Hope to see some of you there!

SYP

4) Promoting water workshops and networking events for students and young professionals.

My other appointment with the Canadian Water Network’s Students and Young Professionals Committee. My team has been doing amazing work pulling together several cool workshops across the country, which YOU can attend for free!
Check ’em out here: http://www.cwn-rce.ca/young-professionals/workshops/upcoming/

Moncton-banner_SYP-workshop

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We will also be announcing more information about our upcoming bi-annual water conference in March 2015. Stay tuned!
CWR2015-Banner

5) Expanding my horizons and donating to a good cause.

Newly interested in another project at the University of Calgary – Project SHINE – which is working with Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania to empower youth to educate themselves and others about sanitation and hygiene. Most recently I have been promoting their drive to collect used digital cameras or used smart phones to document the World’s First Sanitation Science Fair. I donated one of my old digital cameras, and I am very excited to be receiving a Foldscope (a working origami microscope!) in return for my donation.
 If anyone is interested in donating, Sheri is still looking for donations. See the poster below for details.

SHINE poster for donations

Sarah Topps, MPH © October 2014





Using Everyday Objects for Healthy Portion Sizes

23 04 2014

Hello readers!

April has been a whirlwind of activity as I finish up my Master of Public Health degree! Earlier this month, I was invited to give a short ten-minute presentation on the subject of Nutritional Wellness.

hand guide for food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using my adult learning training, I chose to use the BOPPPS model to construct my 10-minute presentation. I have decided to upload my lesson plan for anyone to look at and use for educational purposes:

 Healthy Portion Sizes Lesson Plan – Sarah Topps 2014 

I have also uploaded the powerpoint presentation that I created to deliver this lesson:

Using Everyday Objects for Healthy Portion Sizes – Lesson 

 Short post today, but I hope it is useful for those of you who are:

  • aspiring public health professionals
  • current public health professionals looking for some new material
  • anyone looking for a BOPPPS lesson plan in its final form
  • health educators or health promotion managers

IMPORTANT: Please give credit where credit is due –
Do not pass this off as your own work!

Feel free to use it under the Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ca/
(Full Creative Commons License description here)

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post any questions below!

– Sarah Topps 2014





Allison Lee on How Climate Change is Destroying the Earth

6 03 2013

Speaking of infographics… 

Recently I was flattered to receive an email from Allison Lee asking if I would be interested in reviewing and posting something on my blog: an infographic on climate change that she helped to create along with a team of designers and researchers.

I feel that international development, climate change and global health are intrinsically linked subjects, and while I have not directly addressed climate change on my blog, I feel the need to publicly acknowledge that I believe it is real, and humans have played a substantial role in causing it. I have been meaning to write a post about my time in Iceland in December and how shocked I was at how warm it was. I distinctly remember standing comfortably outside in jeans and a sweater while a local told me stories about riding a snowmobile through meters of snow to visit his neighbours in the capital city on Christmas morning only 20 years ago. I remember looking down… there was no snow on the ground.

Embarrassingly, in 2011 Canada became the ONLY country EVER to actually drop out of the Kyoto Protocol (a global agreement among nations to reduce their 1990 emission levels by 18% by 2020).

On LearnStuff.com where Allison and her team have posted their infographic, they give some helpful suggestions that people can do every day to reduce climate change:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • (Or switching to car pooling, bicycles or public transit! – my addition)
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

This week I finally had enough time to review their infographic and check their sources, so without further delay, I am sharing it with all of you. [My apologies to Allison and her team for not posting it sooner!]

Climate-Change

 

What did you think of the above infographic? Was there anything that you liked? Disagreed with? Put it in the comments below.

– Sarah Topps 2013





Infographics and Vaccines: Information Contagion and Infection Control

20 02 2013

I recently came across a new infographic that I love, and it reminded me to post on here about the importance of data visualization, especially when it comes to getting big messages across very quickly and in very few words. Our brains are visual. We only began reading and writing in the last few thousand years, and even then, it has been a rare gift and privilege for most of that time. However we have been visually absorbing information for as long as we, and our predecessors, have had eyes.

The infographic I mentioned (posted below) also reminded me that we, as health promoters are trying to s-p-r-e-a-d information and stop the spread of disease and poor health.

Print

Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/matthewherper/files/2013/02/c6fb5feb7f1ee71b7e725277d3099916.jpg 

The above infographic was created by Leon Farrant, a graphic designer in Purchase, N.Y., using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

– Sarah Topps 2013

Note: I am also currently a contributing author and moderator of a blog about health promotion, communication and advocacy for a class that I am taking. This post was originally written for that purpose, and since I wrote it, I have re-purposed it to bring over here. (Just so no one thinks I’m stealing!)





aea365

19 02 2013

I am currently taking a program planning and evaluation course and one of our assignments is to read the American Evaluators Association daily blog (aea365) and find 3 useful posts that describe “a hot tip, a cool trick or a rad resource” and then share it with our classmates. This week it was my turn, and I have decided to also share them on this blog.

Here are the three useful things I found on the aea365 blog:

Chelsea Heaven on Why Graduate Students Interested in Evaluation Should Consider Volunteering Aug 13, 2012 Link: http://aea365.org/blog/?p=6954

Rad Resource: Volunteering with Statistics Without Borders

Everyone’s heard of Doctors Without Borders right? Or even Engineers Without Borders… but what about Statistics Without Borders? Chelsea Heaven, fellow public health graduate, posted last year about her great experience with volunteering with them, and recommending it to other grad students as a way to work with real ‘messy’ data and evaluation professionals in collaborative teams of 4-5 people on real world problems such as health policy in East Africa. She recommended joining Idealist.org and then checking out SWB.

Susan Kistler on Great Professional Development and a Great Blog May 19, 2012 Link: http://aea365.org/blog/?p=6466

Hot Tip: Consider subscribing to Karen Anderson’s blog: On Top of the Box Evaluation.

According to Susan (the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director and aea365 Saturday contributor): “Karen is a (relatively) new professional, a graduate of AEA’s GEDI program, and an all around wonder woman”. Some of Karen’s posts that I enjoyed were “What Evaluation Hat Are You Wearing” and “What Evaluators Can Learn From Politics” – which talks about making your information ‘sexy’ and appealing to policy-makers.

Susan Kistler on 25 Low-cost/no-cost Tech Tools for Data Visualization and Reporting Nov 3, 2012 Link: http://aea365.org/blog/?p=7491

Rad Resource(s): The slide notes for a presentation on 25 low-cost/no-cost tech tools for Data Visualization and Reporting

Susan Kistler provides her viewpoint on some of the many data visualization tools available online, or as Susan so aptly put it in her post: “tools that hopefully help us to merge truth and beauty”. These tools include both paid and free ones and range from the aea365 blog itself, to prezi, to storify, pinterest and lovelycharts. You can download the full slidedeck from the AEA public eLibrary. Susan also suggests downloading the pdf version (posted below) with the notes that include the URL links for each item, cost information, and tips.

Data Visualization Tools PPT overview review

**This one was my personal favourite – it is always a challenge to find resources which are both comprehensive AND concise!





The Global Health Hub (.org)

3 02 2013

As a master of public health student, I often find it difficult to try and learn about everything that is going on in the world of public health, although one of the major reasons that I love my field of global health in particular, is that it is continuously and rapidly evolving. I’ve recently discovered a new information platform for keeping up with this busy and ever-changing field: GlobalHealthHub.org

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.31.24 PM

I learned of this website through their twitter feed, which someone suggested that I follow. I decided to go and check out their actual site and found an amazing array of useful tools and information stored there. [I was also thrilled to discover that I have a master in public health degree in common with the founding editor Sarah Arnquist (@sarnquist), who has her degree from Johns Hopkins University.]

GlobalHealthHub.org is 100% volunteer driven, and provides news updates, guest editorials, links to other global health blogs, job postings, resources, and my personal favourite feature, an open-source global health and development timeline! Be sure to check it out.

– Sarah Topps 2013





Home is where the heart is…

9 02 2010

According to Planet of the Slums, by Mike Davis: Urban slum dwellers are currently the fastest growing segment of the global population. This is the statistic which inspired Jonas Bendiksen, Norwegian photojournalist, to travel around the world documenting, interestingly, the inside of slum-dwellers homes. The photo below is one of my personal favourites, with the caption below it taken from the Foreign Policy website.

[In Jakarta’s “kampongs,” the homes were smaller than in other slums Bendiksen visited. One couple, with their three teenage daughters, lives here. There is space to sit upright, but not to stand. Although the room is extraordinarily small, it’s also very tidy. “You see here the same elements as in your own house: framed family pictures, wallpaper improvised,” Bendiksen says. “No matter what economic condition people are living in, not only do we need to create shelter over our head, but to create a home.”]

I have lived in a number of interesting locations around the world – all of them luxurious compared with a single-room shelter where the ceiling is not high enough to stand up. It is certainly a sobering prospect, but it does however, allow me to raise the question which has so-often plagued me on my travels:

Where do you call home?

How does one define home? There are a number of expressions and clichés which have been used to describe this place of seemingly mythical status:

“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

“Home is where you hang your head”

“Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.”

“Home is the girl’s prison and the woman’s workhouse”

“Home is where the heart is.”

“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.”  ~Christian Morgenstern

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”  ~Charles Dickens

“Where thou art – that – is Home.”  ~Emily Dickinson

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
~Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”  ~John Ed Pearce

However, whenever I am asked for a specific place that I call “home”, I struggle internally, and generally end up changing my answer several times before eventually settling on something. Recently, while speaking with a friend of mine, Ms. Birgitte Witt,(whose blog can be found here) about her undergraduate thesis, this feeling was clarified for me.

Apparently I am a “third-culture kid“.

A third-culture kid, as defined by the TCKWorld website, is “[…] a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture.”

Ahah! I thought to myself. This explains a lot about why I feel/act/speak the way that I do. Here are some good examples which apply to me (and possibly to you) taken from the “You know you’re a TCK if...” page.

– Your life story uses the phrase “Then we moved to…” three (or four, or five…) times.
– You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
– You don’t know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
– The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
– You think VISA is a document that’s stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
– You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a trasnsformer isn’t always enough to make your appliances work.
– You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.
– You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
– You consider a city 500 miles away “very close.”

And the list goes on. (It can be found here.) You too may be a TCK.

It certainly makes me feel as if, although I may not belong anywhere, I certainly belong somewhere. And that I can love all of my identities and “homes” and not be as strange as I once thought…

Post by Sarah Topps









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